Allstate’s “nanny nanny boo-boo, you can’t catch me” defense of Louisiana qui tam cases

Nanny, nanny boo- boo!

“…the Fifth Circuit knew full well that Allstate had been voluntarily dismissed from Rigsby before it ruled…”

You can’t catch me!

Significantly, Branch does not even attempt to address any of the controlling authority cited by Allstate that a voluntary dismissal is not tantamount to a dismissal under Rule 9(b) or for lack of any factual basis, much less a concession that the suit is a sham.

Judge Vance doesn’t strike me as someone with any interest in having her courtroom turned into a playground – much less someone with patience for bullies on any playground.  However, along came Pilot to add to the taunt.

Stick you face in doo-doo!

Indeed, unlike any of the ninety-one other insurers not named in Rigsby (or the adjusters for those insurers), Pilot and Crawford were identified in Rigsby as “co-conspirators” that worked on the same “sites” as Allstate and State Farm, the defendant insurers for which they provided adjusting services.

Pilot then steps in deep doo-doo Continue reading “Allstate’s “nanny nanny boo-boo, you can’t catch me” defense of Louisiana qui tam cases”

Allstate painted (literally) company in a Billion $ Corner – ex rel Sonnier v: FOURTH qui tam Complaint filed against Allstate

And, then there were four – ex rel Rigsby, ex rel Branch Consultants,  ex rel Denenea and, now, ex rel Sonnier v Allstate:

ALLSTATE’s price allowed on wind policy estimates of loss in the State of Louisiana for painting damaged areas was between $0.15 and $0.38 per square foot. However, on NFIP flood policy estimates, ALLSTATE allowed $0.56 per square foot, a difference of between $0.18 and $0.41 per square foot. Thus, if the true and correct cost to repaint flood damaged property was between $0.15 and $0.38 per square foot (i.e., the same cost listed by defendant, ALLSTATE, to paint the same unit of drywall covered under the wind policy issued for the same property by defendant, ALLSTATE, and applicable to the same loss event), ALLSTATE caused the federal government to overpay ALLSTATE between $0.15 and $0.41 for every square foot required to be painted in every NFIP flood policy loss estimate adjusted and initially paid by ALLSTATE but subsequently submitted to the federal government for full reimbursement to ALLSTATE.

Kermith Sonnier, “the Relator is a licensed insurance adjuster with 30 years experience…principal shareholder of Sonnier & Fisher Public Adjusters, LLC, a public adjusting firm based in Lake Charles, Louisiana”.

The allegations in Mr. Sonnier’s recently unsealed qui tam Complaint against Allstate are Plus-Size over a $1,00o,ooo,000 federal dollars fraudulently by manipulating  multiple costs in claims submitted to the NFIP from multiple disasters in multiple locations over the six year period prior to filing the Complaint under seal on December 10, 2009. Continue reading “Allstate painted (literally) company in a Billion $ Corner – ex rel Sonnier v: FOURTH qui tam Complaint filed against Allstate”

“an olive Branch”? Denenea and Branch agree to consolidate qui tam cases – call for decision on Rigsbys’ Allstate claim!

It’s way too late to do more than link the two responses in oppositions to Allstate’s attempt to dismiss ex rel Branch v Allstate, et al and ex rel Denenea v Allstate and quote the pertinent text from both – sorry, but one thing Rossmiller got exactly right is that “work” really is “the curse of the blogging class”.

ex rel Denenea v Allstate: Relator’s Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant Allstate Insurance Company’s Motion to Dismiss…

The relator intends to consolidate this matter with the Branch relator, which may avoid additional judicial expense as to any potential conflicts on first to file issues between Denenea and Branch. There still exists the issue of first to file as to the present case and Rigsby; however, that issue is either resolved under recent jurisprudence, or should be addressed on a full hearing on the merits of the status of the Rigsby case pertaining to Allstate. The remainder of the motion should be denied for the reasons stated, or that the motion should be converted to a full motion for summary judgment allowing for the full supporting facts to be submitted for this courts consideration. The relator therefore suggests that the motions filed by Allstate be denied.

ex rel Branch Consultants v Allstate, et al Branch Consultants’ Consolidated Opposition to the Motions to Dismiss of Defendants Allstate Insurance Company and Pilot Catastrophe Services, Inc.

Branch notes that Allstate has not taken the position that the later-filed Denenea case has preclusive effect as to this action. Thus, Branch has made no attempt to brief the issue here, and the Court should not entertain any such argument in Allstate’s reply or at oral argument. Branch also notes that, with regard to contents coverage, it does not believe there is overlap between the Denenea allegations and this action because Branch’s claims do not concern that coverage. Branch nonetheless is in favor of consolidating Denenea with this action and anticipates filing a motion to that end.

Definitely, something to think about and, as time permits, write much more about the points made in both opposition briefs.

As different as the two brothers Darryl – the other Allstate qui tam case: ex rel Denenea v Allstate

Although their shared name is sufficient reason for thinking the two brothers Darryl are one in the same, an examination of available evidence reveals two distinctly different individuals.  In this third of an intended four-part series, SLABBED examines the evidence available on the most recently unsealed Katrina qui tam case, ex rel Denenea v Allstate – a distinctly different case from the other also named Allstate, ex rel Branch Consultants v Allstate.

In an attempt to convince the federal courts in Louisiana these two qui tam cases are one in the same and both should be dismissed, Allstate has launched what can best be described as a “wool-over-the-court’s-eye scheme“.  A key element of the scheme and the centerpiece of Allstate’s defense is, of all things, the qui tam case filed in Mississippi, ex rel Rigsby v State Farm – perhaps because several years ago Denenea caught the yarn the Company was trying to spin and unraveled their knitting right in front of none other than the federal district judge assigned to Denenae’s qui tam case, Judge Sarah Vance.

Every bit of yarn in Allstate’s knitting bag was tossed at Denenea in the Company’s Motion to Dismiss but Denenae’s case has a needle that makes it as distinctly different from both Branch and Rigsby as one “brother Darryl” is from the “other brother Darryl”: Continue reading “As different as the two brothers Darryl – the other Allstate qui tam case: ex rel Denenea v Allstate”

Surely Allstate doesn’t think Judge Sarah Vance is the “other brother Darryl” – “good hands” trying to put words in her mouth (a Branch qui tam updaate)

Left to right: Larry, his "other brother Darryl, and his "brother Darryl"

In my most recent post on the three Katrina qui tam cases, I compared Allstate to  Larry, the character on the old Newhart show who spoke for his two mute brothers – “my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl”.   This update on the Branch Consultants’ qui tam case is the first of three follow-up posts, each focusing on a single case.  While Louisiana federal district Judge Sarah Vance is not only more attractive than Larry’s “other brother Darryl”, pictured center in photo on the right, one might think she, too, mute given Allstate’s attempt to put words in her mouth.

Allstate certainly has good reason to be concerned.  The Company has the distinction of being a named defendant in all the Katrina qui tam cases.  Allstate argues it is a distinction without a difference and that, on that basis,  Judge Vance lacks jurisdiction under the “first to file” requirement of the FCA (False Claims Act). A related SLABBED post,  Allstate files Answer in Branch – and this I couldn’t make up!, introduced Allstate’s position; i.e., the Rigsby sisters were the first to file.

Despite having once invited Branch counsel Allen Kanner to “kiss my***ex rel“, I do not believe Judge Vance can determine jurisdiction until discovery has been completed in Branch, the recently unsealed ex rel Denenea v Allstate and Rigsby with the scope of expanded.   Allstate represents the FCA restriction on similar claims too narrowly, IMO, but more importantly, there is currently no way to know for certain.

My position, however, is contrary to the strategy of the “wool-over-court’s-eye” scheme concocted, or so I believe, by Allstate and other insurers as an element in the overall scheme of fraudulent claims handling that followed Hurricane Katrina – and it is the context of that wet-dog smelling scheme unraveling before Judge Vance that we examined the current status of the Branch Consultants’ qui tam case.

If you knit, you know that a dropped stitch can’t be covered.  Magistrate Shushan’s recent Orders make it clear that dropping a stitch in a “wool-over-court’s-eye” scheme also can’t be covered. Continue reading “Surely Allstate doesn’t think Judge Sarah Vance is the “other brother Darryl” – “good hands” trying to put words in her mouth (a Branch qui tam updaate)”

Larry, his brother Darryl and his brother Darryl take their act to the Qui Tam Olympics

A little background here for new readers and a refresher for others:  Larry, a character on the old Newhart show, spoke for himself and his two mute brothers, both of whom were named Darryl. (h/t Sop for the reminder).  “Qui Tam Olympics” is SLABBED shorthand for the insurance industry’s effort to play Mississippi Judge L.T.Senter and the Rigsby qui tam case against Louisiana Judge Sarah Vance and the Branch Consultants’ qui tam case and, now, the Denenea case too.

Got the picture? Meet the cast.  Although the roles change when to their advantage, at the moment Allstate has taken the role of Larry, State Farm that of one Darryl with the rest of the industry playing the other.

In other words, those in the insurance industry that were  “all in it together” – “it” being “the scheme” of fraudulent claims handling that followed Hurricane Katrina – are still “all in it together” with “it” being a pull-the-wool-over-the-court’s-eye scheme to fool the federal courts into dismissing all three qui tam cases. How do I know?  Well, wet wool smells – some say like a wet dog – and I picked up the scent reading documents filed in all three cases.

Hold your nose and I’ll link this wool-pulling scheme to the scheme and the qui tam insurance defendants that are among “The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America”– and, if you’ll follow me as I briefly introduce Moffett, et al v Computer Sciences Corporation, et al (Maryland), I’ll also briefly introduce a breath of fresh air, Opperman, et al v Allstate, et al (New Jersey). Continue reading “Larry, his brother Darryl and his brother Darryl take their act to the Qui Tam Olympics”

Allstate files Answer in Branch – and this I couldn’t make up!

My calendar was marked with the due date for Allstate’s Answer to the Branch SAC (Second Amended Complaint); and, given the Allstate Motion for Extension of Time…and…Page Limits, I expected the “good hands” to mix things up:

In its notice of nonintervention filed in Denenea, the Government stated that ‘with the addition of Allstate as a defendant in Branch Consultants, the question of whether the jurisdictional bar under 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b)(5) is triggered as to either the relator in Denenea or the relator in Branch Consultants arises’…Allstate seeks a ten day extension of the deadline for it to respond to the SAC so that Allstate may address the impact of the Denenea action on the viability of the SAC’s claims against Allstate…

Allstate also respectfully moves for an extension of the page limit…In addition to the issues raised by the Denenea action, Allstate’s motion will address the first-to-file, res judicata, and law of the case issues raised by the Rigsby complaint and this Court’s and the Fifth Circuit’s prior rulings dismissing Allstate under the first-to-file rule.”

Allstate, however, did more than just mix things up.  The Company’s Answer to the Branch complaint reads as if Abbott and Constello were heading Allstate’s legal team and offering who-filed-first as a defense! Continue reading “Allstate files Answer in Branch – and this I couldn’t make up!”

BREAKING NEWS – new Katrina qui tam unsealed: ex rel Denenea v Allstate

With the MSM starting to call and ask about this case, it’s time for this breaking news to break!    Louisiana Federal District Judge Carl Barbier has unsealed ex rel Denenea v Allstate!  The Complaint , filed in May 2007 and amended in November 2009, indicates this litigation will get the truth out about Allstate’s handling of policyholder claims following Hurricane Katrina:

Relator is John H. Denenea, Jr. (“Denenea”), an individual domiciled in the Parish of Jefferson, State of Louisiana and a United States citizen who brings this civil action for violations of 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1) and (2) for himself as relator and for the United States Government (the “Government”) as plaintiff pursuant to 31 U.S.c. § 3730(b)(1)…As an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Louisiana who represented the Weisses, Majoue, Shearman, Whelan, Richardson, Smith, and Johnson in connection with their homeowners insurance claims against Allstate, Denenea acquired and has direct and independent knowledge of the information on which the allegations set forth herein are based, and he voluntarily provided that information to the Government before filing this action…

Denenea, who, “on behalf of himself and the Government, respectfully demands a trial by jury of all issues so triable” is known to SLABBED readers as the attorney who embedded hyperlinks to video depositions in the briefs he filed with the federal court, Southern District Mississippi. Rick Trahant, Jack Morris and Brian Sherman are representing Denenea:

Made defendant is Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”), an insurance company authorized to engage in the insurance business under the laws of all fifty States with its principal place of business in Northbrook, Illinois…

Allstate and the Government are parties to a “Financial Assistance/Subsidy Arrangement,” 44 CFR, Part 62, Appendix A (the “FASA”), entered into under the National Flood Insurance Program, 44 CFR § 59.1 et seq. (“NFIP”), pursuant to regulations promulgated by the Federal Insurance Administration (“PIA”) by authority of the National Flood Insurance Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4001 et seq. (the “Act”).

The FASA requires Allstate to “investigate, adjust, settle and defend all claims or losses arising from policies issued under this Arrangement. Payment of flood insurance claims by the Company shall be binding upon the FIA.” 44 CFR, Part 62, Appendix A, Art. lI(F).

In adjusting and settling the claims of the Weisses, Majoue, Shearman, Whelan, and Richardson under their respective homeowners policies and Standard Flood Insurance Policies for combined wind and flood damage to their respective insured properties, Allstate, unbeknownst to the insureds, knowingly and systematically fabricated and falsified documents including but not limited to proof of loss forms, flood narrative forms, WYO flood processing request forms, NFIP preliminary report forms, property loss worksheets, and/or other documents, forms, and/or information which substantially inflated the amounts of these insureds’ flood insurance claims at the expense of the Government, while at the same time enriching Allstate by substantially deflating the amounts of these insureds’ homeowners insurance claims. Continue reading “BREAKING NEWS – new Katrina qui tam unsealed: ex rel Denenea v Allstate”